Settling In: Ministry in the Solomon Islands
Originally posted at: http://samsusa.org/2017/09/06/settling-in-ministry-in-the-solomon-islands/
Greetings from Trinity School for Theology and Ministry at Airahu Training Center! I have been in the Solomon Islands about four weeks now—though so much has happened that it feels as if I have been here much longer! This is a beautiful land, with beautiful people, and I hope in my newsletters and blog posts that I will be able to convey just a glimpse of these beauties.
I have begun to settle in at Airahu, an Anglican center that hosts a monastic order, a rural training center, and a theological school. This institution is quite unlike anything I have experienced in the United States. Each component—the Melanesian Brotherhood, Trinity School for Theology and Ministry, and the Rural Training Center—function independently of one another. Yet, they share the land together, regularly come together for times of religious activity, social events, and occasionally meals. There is no sense of competition among the groups, and each seems to be working toward the same goal—to tangibly apply the teachings of Jesus to life in the Solomon Islands.
Continue reading below to learn a little more about each of the three programs at Airahu
Rural Training Center
Education is a real social challenge in the Solomon Islands. Most of the Islands have no secondary schools, so teenagers travel to the capital city of Honiara for high-school education. There are increasingly limited and highly competitive opportunities for students the further they go in their education. Nor does education does necessarily lead to employment—many good jobs are given to “friends and family.”
The Rural Training Center provides vocational training to students throughout the island of Malaita. There are several different tracks available—agriculture, carpentry, homemaking, etc.
The students and staff at the Rural Training Center are eager to learn different styles of agriculture. In the image below I am explaining a permaculture design to a few of them. The Banana Circle (pictured below) will be a feature in a future newsletter or blog.
The Melanesian Brotherhood is a religious order that was started by Anglican Melanesians in the 1920s. Brothers take a vow to chastity, submission, and evangelism. They are a missionary order, regularly traveling two-by-two across the countryside providing pastoral care. They are an asset and an aid to the parish priests who serve throughout the villages. At Airahu, several brothers live and help teach at the Rural Training Center. Some are students at the school for Theology. The Brothers also host morning and Evening prayers daily, and a Eucharist service on Sundays.
In the image below, one of the Elder Brothers expresses his gratitude for those who prepared lunch for us.
Trinity School for Ministry and Theology
Not to be confused with Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA (where I just graduated from!), TSTM offers a diploma program in Theology and Ministry also located at Airahu Training Center. Students attend for three years before graduating. After graduation, most students are ordained to the diaconate before becoming parish priests. Students at TSTM come from all over the Solomon Islands. Many are from Malaita, but some students come from as far away as the Western Province, Guadalcanal and San Isabel. In this picture, I am teaching some of the TSTM students at the Chapel of Melanesia at Airahu. Jon and were the speakers at a campus retreat a few weeks ago, facilitating discussions about the Lord’s Prayer.